DeKalb County Veterans stand vigil for 24-hours

Local News

SYCAMORE, Ill. (WTVO) — Some local veterans want to make sure that those who served are honored day and night, and they are leading by example.

The group of volunteers stood watch over a special memorial in Sycamore for 24 hours. For Ronald Slavenas, who stood guard for the first shift, it was a personal mission, and he said that he had no problem braving the elements if it meant honoring those that have been lost.

Slavenas, as well as other veterans, stood vigil in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse, as part of a time-honored tradition to commemorate all who have served.

“I feel dedicated to the cause here,” Slavenas said. “A lot of thoughts go through your mind. You’re thinking about all the difficult times we’ve had historically with war, and how many tragedies it has caused.”

Veterans took turns keeping watch over the memorial for a full 24-hours. More than 130 flags joined them as they stood guard at all hours of the night.

“Sometimes, that hour stance each person does can be winds, snow, sleet, rain,” said Frank Beierlotzer of DeKalb County Forty and Eight. “Some people come up, two in the morning, dead quiet, a car or two going by, somebody will stop and say ‘what’re you doing.’ And others will come up and say ‘thank you for what you’re doing.’ All different types of responses.”

Slavenas, an 84-year-old Army Veteran, said that he has taken part for nearly a decade, but health issues mean that it is tougher than it used to be for him to stand.

“It’s not always easy for me, but as long as I can do it, I will be with it,” Slavenas said. “Veterans mean a lot to me personally, and I’ve got a network of friendships with veterans.”

Part of his motivation to keep participating is to honor three of his sons who also served. One of them was killed in action in Iraq in 2003.

“Technically, we shouldn’t have any wars. We should plant trees and flowers, and that should be internationally,” Slavenas said. “But sometimes, we can’t help it. We have to serve when we’re threatened. That’s what it’s all about, you know?”

The same group of DeKalb County veterans also puts up flags in front of the courthouse for Memorial Day each year.

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